At first glance, Dylan Fish's series Social Fabric looks like a bunch of Facebook photos printed onto cloth, but appearances can be deceiving: "It's actually woven," he says, "so what you're looking at is exclusively black and white thread."
Social Fabric was made using a process called Jacquard weaving. The Jacquard loom, introduced in 1801 and using punch cards to operate, paved the way for modern technology. "Everything from your calculator to your iPod is controlled by the same binary process that was pioneered with the loom," Fish says. "It was created in the Industrial Age, so the work I'm doing is trying to relate where we are in the digital age now back to where it came from."
One of the images in Social Fabric is a celebratory scene that, upon closer inspection, is actually unrelated Facebook revellers composited into one photograph. "I was interested in showing people that I manipulated the image but at the same time wanted the viewer to get there themselves," Fish says. "It's an interesting metaphor for Facebook itself; one non-stop party of people who don't really know each other."
His next big project will be what he calls a "moving image in fabric, trying to create an animation by weaving a series of images and then animating them in physical space."
Fish's Cycletrope, on display as part of NSCAD's Redux exhibition at the Craig, is a bicycle converted into a zoetrope, featuring its owner pedaling it pre-transformation. "So the bike now animates itself riding in a never-ending loop, and that was kind of a practice run for the" fabric animation.
Fish is currently the first-ever artist in residence at the Dartmouth Bridge Centre for Arts and Technology, an organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth. He recently completed a similar residency, spending three months in South Africa working with at-risk youth as part of NSCAD's Arts in Schools Initiative.
"I really love what I do and I get a lot of happiness out of it," says the artist, whose paintings will be featured at Visual Arts Nova Scotia throughout the month of February. "I like to put a sense of irony and almost sarcasm back into the work."